Quantcast

Beetlejuice (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

2020 has been a good year so far with the studios and the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray catalog titles debuting (Besides friggin’ Disney). As we continue to hear about streaming taking over and “RIP physical media”, I’m not seeing it just yet as we keep seeing awesome announcements. Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice is one of those said announcements. Its been updated with a new transfer and an Atmos track. Unfortunately, its following the same ‘ol same o’l front when it comes to having some fruitful new bonus features for the film.  Quite surprising, Beetlejuice has never had even a commentary or vintage interview/EPK featurette presented as a bonus feature. The Blu-ray disc in this set is the exact one that was release in 2008 and continually repurposed in the years since. Though that sucks, my mantra right now is to just be satisfied films are making the format jump at all with the future outlook not so positive. You can pre-order Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice for release on September 8th!

Film

After Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their country residence, unable to leave the house. When the unbearable Deetzes (Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones) and teen daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) buy the home, the Maitlands attempt to scare them away without success. Their efforts attract Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a rambunctious spirit whose “help” quickly becomes dangerous for the Maitlands and innocent Lydia.

Tim Burton will always receive my benefit of the doubt and interest as I feel I’ve grown up with him as a director. The names Spielberg, Lucas, Hitchcock, Coppola and such were already familiar to me. But, when I saw Batman and it changed my life and I also discovered Burton had made Beetlejuice and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, he became my favorite and I followed him through everything he did. He had a visual style and inspirations that I could clearly tell and feel when a film was his without even being told. His work made a lasting impression and important education for me on my journey and learning at a young age.

Beetlejuice marks one of his surprisingly most original and complete Tim Burton works in his career. Sounds crazy considering his name goes atop titles and he’s know for his style. But visuals and style are strong and certainly importantly. A quick look and you’ll notice most of his work are some sort of an adaptation (I’m including biopic in with that word), which is classically how most directing or films had come about. Directing his own stories really is limited with Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie and Edward Scissorhands being the most notable of those from him.

In a world of so much cinema dedicated to being part of a property, Beetlejuice is retroactively a refreshing movie. Its quite zany and lives in its own little world of humor and horror. Sure, you can deduce a lot of Tim Burton’s influences, but they feel more that he grew up with things and they are merely a natural extension of him and less desperate to recreate something because it looks vintage. Burton really is an artist, with personality and style at the end of the day. And that’s where his film feels it has life and character no matter how quirky weird or eccentric they are. They all have depth, dimension and a specific personality that keeps the film from feeling hollow.

Everyone in the cast is game for the cause. Its a rare case where they all prove themselves quite memorable, stick to what they are supposed to, and everyone comes out plenty memorable in the end. Sure, Keaton is the titular scene stealer. And my, he has a wild energy and pulls off one of the most unique dirtbag characters ever put to celluloid. Its no surprise people have been pining for a sequel as they probably just want to see more of him doing this routine again. To boot, Beetlejuice isn’t even in this movie as much as you’d think he would be. Winona Ryder was also one of the more breakout people here as Burton really seemed to know how to utilize her and she showcasing a grand understanding of the material.

I first saw Beetlejuice when it came out on home video when I was probably 6 or 7 years old and its stayed with me, only growing stronger and more fonder since. Nowadays, I take in a lot of Burton’s craft and his mind. The sets, costumes, style and ideas are on overload here and its just magnificent on the eyes. The film almost feels like he is just letting it all out here and leaving nothing on the table. And he found the perfect vessel for it all to fit. Beetlejuice is hilarious, magical and creatively outstanding and easily understandable as to why it has been beloved for over 3 decades.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. The images are in the 1.78:1 ratio whereas the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray I can confirm is presented in the original theatrical framing of 1.85:1

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Beetlejuice makes its debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. Thanks to being shot on film, its a native 4K title. Another improvement from its previous format release is that it has return to its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Now its framed properly and has the intended look. Details are quite strong and it has a cleaner looking image, but it doesn’t appear to have been heavily DNR’d or any other tomfoolery. Its strengths lie in the color saturation, natural blacks and crisp image.

Depth:  This one really sees a three dimensional uptick with its 4K restoration. There’s a nice push back and loose quality to everything. It provides a great sense of scale and size to the whole thing. Movements are smooth, cinematic and feature no issues with distortions coming from rapid movement or the like.

Black Levels:  Black levels are deep and natural. Many of the darker areas still impress with good shadow and ability to maintain texture, patterns or follicle details. It doesn’t get off scott-free in the crushing area as there was one pretty bad spot. It happens during our first introduction to Beetlejuice as the camera pans underground (When he’s checking out the Obituaries). It strikingly noticeable. However, nothing else of that ilk happens and is squeaky clean outside of that.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are quite striking here in both natural and embellished forms. Green lighting roars off the screen. Things like the yellow car really punch. Signs glow and the HDR really adds some zap to it. This film feels tailor made to show off the color saturation and HDR strengths of the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format and it truly comes through.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish and under whatever filter dominates the frame in certain areas. Facial features and textures shine through clearly with make-up details being impressive. You can also make out tired eyes, blemishes and the intricacies of Beetlejuice’s facial features.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean in this regard, please see the ‘Black Levels’ section for 1 instance of some bad crush that occurs early in the film.

Audio

Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Chinese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castilian), Dutch, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Korean, Spanish (Latin America), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai

Dynamics: Not only does the video get an upgrade, but the audio for Beetlejuice has jumped to modern standards with an Atmos track. It helps keep the movie a bit more spacey as well as find itself balancing the effects, music and vocals very well. It could be a bit more surrounding and deeper, but overall it more than gets the job done for a fun engagement.

Height: The ceiling channel is utilized for specific and direct opportunities in the film. The car falling from the bridge, falling into the afterlife, yelling from upstairs and others are little moments where its more direct and noticeable.

Low-Frequency Extension:  Some solid, decent thump comes from the subwoofer. There could be a little more, but blast, music beats, crashes, giant worms and more give a good rumble.

Surround Sound Presentation: A lot of the film hangs around up front, but it does utilize the room for ambiance, music and very specific moments that help round out the action.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear, crisp and easily audible no matter how loud the antics. Clear actor diction present in the mix.

Extras

Beetlejuice comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a Digital Code. The standard Blu-ray is the same one that has been available on the format since 2008.

Music-Only Track

Beetlejuice Cartoon Episodes

  • A-Ha! (SD, 12:15)
  • Skeletons in the Closet (SD, 12:15) 
  • Spooky Boo-Tique (SD, 12:15)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:27)

Summary

Beetlejuice is an amazing bit of a completely original thought in film, feeling even more refreshing looking back on it nowadays.  The 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut sees a noticeable increase in video and audio quality. Where Beetlejuice continues to lack is in the bonus features. Through all the formats we’ve had, there have been no commentaries, featurettes or interviews to give us a deep dive on the popular horror comedy. Its a shame as it seems there is probably a fun story to tell. At a decent price, upgrade your copy if you’re a fan. And if you don’t own Beetlejuice, you’ve had far more than 3 chances in your life to grab it, pick it up now!

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments